Olimpija Ljubljana vs. Chelsea: How the Blues Will Line Up

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2014

HIGH WYCOMBE, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal duing the pre season friendly match between Wycombe Wanderers and Chelsea at Adams Park on July 16, 2014 in High Wycombe, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Chelsea announced on Friday that Didier Drogba had rejoined the club, but those fans hoping to see a glimpse of him in Chelsea colors once again will have to wait a little while longer.

Sunday's clash with Slovenian side Olimpija Ljubljana will probably come too soon for the Ivorian since his return, although we can expect to see more stars on show for the Blues.

Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa have completed their first week of training as Chelsea players, and the pair will feature for at least 45 minutes at Stozice Stadium, a fact Jose Mourinho confirmed to Chelsea TV after the midweek draw with RZ Pellets.

It was interesting to see how Mourinho adapted his approach to pre-season on Wednesday.

Chelsea's two earlier fixtures had seen the manager make wholesale changes at half-time, changing 10 players against Wycombe Wanderers and AFC Wimbledon.

That didn't happen against Pellets, with Mourinho giving more game time to the likes of Patrick Bamford and Izzy Brown while John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic continued their first 90 minutes ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

Now that the likes of Fabregas, Costa, Cesar Azpilicueta, Fernando Torres and Gary Cahill are back from World Cup duties, we can expect Mourinho to revert to his earlier approach.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 04:  Nemanja Matic of Chelsea is replaced by Fernando Torres of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Norwich City at Stamford Bridge on May 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Image
Clive Rose/Getty Images

It will be vital to get those players into the mix, yet anything beyond 45 minutes at this stage of their routine will be a risk, especially as Mourinho's grueling double training sessions continue during the week.

Chelsea's first-team options are coming together now. There are more senior players available for selection, so they will begin to take up the mantle ahead of some of the younger players who have featured prominently.

That said, Brown, Bamford, Lewis Baker and Jeremie Boga have probably done enough these past few weeks for their manager to continue utilizing them in pre-season until Eden Hazard and the other attacking midfielders return from their post-World Cup holidays.

HIGH WYCOMBE, ENGLAND - JULY 16:  Izzy Brown of Chelsea celebrates scoring a goal duing the pre season friendly match between Wycombe Wanderers and Chelsea at Adams Park on July 16, 2014 in High Wycombe, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

With Costa and Torres back, Bamford may be restricted to a smaller role, however.

Petr Cech's return to action after a shoulder injury saw him play the entire 90 minutes against RZ Pellets, and game time is going to prove a key aspect of his ongoing rehabilitation.

For a goalkeeper who had not played since late April, Cech looked surprisingly sharp on Wednesday. Mourinho will be eager for him to continue his return to full fitness to ensure, come Aug. 18 when Chelsea travel to Burnley for their opening game of the season, he has a full selection of goalkeepers to choose from.

COBHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 29:  Petr Cech of Chelsea walks out to the pitch prior to a training session at Chelsea Training Ground on April 29, 2014 in Cobham, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois will have returned by that time, of course, meaning these next few weeks are vital if Cech is to show the young upstart that the No. 1 jersey is still his at Stamford Bridge.

With these factors in mind, we can expect Chelsea to start with more senior names in their line-up on Sunday, but expect it to change at half-time when the manager looks to rotate and get the most from his traveling squad.

Chelsea's predicted starting XI.
Chelsea's predicted starting XI.B/R (Pitch graphic: EPL Index)

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes